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GOD OUR SHIELD.

"Man is conscious of the being of God, and lives and acts in this consciousness, and the reality of the being of God so comes to him." MULFORD, Republic of God, page 1.

“ Thus God has will'd
That man, when fully skill'd,

Still gropes in twilight dim;
Encompass'd all his hours
By fearfullest powers

Inflexible to him:
That so he may discern

His feebleness ;
And e'en for earth's success

To Him in wisdom turn,
Who holds for us the keys of either home,
Earth and the world to come.”

JOHN HENRY NEWMAN, The Elements.
“ Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel with smile or frown:
With that wild wheel we go not up or down."

TENNYSON’s Geraint and Enid. “We exist here in a double connection: first, with the transitory on one side, and, secondly, with the untransitory on the other; and we fare as many other creatures do that are made for two distinct elements, coming into distress in one element the moment they lose connection with the other." — DR. BUSHNELL, Moral Uses, page 383, English ed.

"There is throughout nature something mocking, something that leads us on and on, but arrives nowhere, keeps no faith with us. All promise outruns the performance. We live in a system of approximations. Every end is prospective of some other end, which is also temporary; a round and final success nowhere. We are encamped in nature, not domesticated." - EMERSON.

GOD OUR SHIELD.

"After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” — GENESIS XV. 1.

THERE are two main things that man needs in this world: he needs protection and the fulfillment of his desires and labors, a negative and a positive, a shield and a reward, something to protect him while in the battle, something to reward him when it is over.

This promise is silently keyed to the note of struggle as underlying life, the conception of life that the wise have always taken. It is the condition of the highest virtue; it is the aspect that every earnest life takes on. It is as a conflict that existence begins in Eden, it is a victory that crowns it in the new Jerusalem ; the first word in Scripture is of trial, the last is of overcoming. Life is not mere continuance or development; it is not a harmony, but a struggle. It continues, it develops, it may reach a harmony, but these are not now its main aspects.

It is this element of struggle that separates us from other creations. A tree grows, a brute develops what was lodged within it; but man chooses, and choice by its nature involves struggle. It is

through choice and its conflicts that man makes his world, himself, and his destiny; for in the last analysis character is choice ultimated. The animals live on in their vast variety and generations without changing the surface of the earth, or varying the sequences wrought into their being; but man transforms the earth, and works out for himself diverse histories and destinies. One is perfectly coördinated to nature; the other is but partially so, and is man-like just in the degree in which he gets out of the formal categories of nature into the freedom of his own spiritual and eternal order; great just in the degree in which he rises above instincts, and gets to living out of moral choices.

This is a matter well worth thinking of while the tendency is so strong to identify man with nature, and make him wholly the creature of physical environment; a habit of thought which, if not checked at the proper point, leads to some doctrine of necessity by which the moral sense is paralyzed, and thence to atheism, a path straight, swift, and sloping to the hells of unbridled desire. For when you attempt to account for man as a product of nature, and to shut him up in natural processes, you shut out the heavens and the God who sits on their circle, and make him but another of the beasts " that tear each other in their slime." I do not deny that man is in nature, and that her processes are wrought into him, and even are features of his whole history, but only that he is summed up in nature. The strong tendencies of thought just now are towards such identification of nature and man, with complimentary phrase of him as her crown or flower, the product of her forces lifted to the highest, the final outcome of her order working to its finest issue, and the like. This tendency is in the air and haunts all minds, an evil miasm exhaled from the low fens and primal depths of matter, poisoning faith and breeding diseases that slay all nobility and glory of life. How far it will go cannot be told, but it will go far enough to show that it leads to confusion and despair. But when these sure ends are reached, man will reëxamine himself, and find out that he is divine as well as physical, and that he cannot, even in the light of his own phenomena, be classed with the perishing orders of the external world. Happy is he who now sees the intellectual fallacy in such a conception of man! Happier still is he who has entered into the Christidea of sonship in God, and with swift and easy logic reasons that the child must share the life and destiny of the Father! Meanwhile, however pressed by the accuracies of science, and while waiting for its highest conclusions, let us cherish the nobler conception. Anything that even seems to wear the look of descent in thought is to be regarded with suspicion, or passed by.

It is this nobler view of man, as choosing and struggling, that makes it needful he should have protection in the world. If he were only an animal he might be left to nature, for nature is adequate to the needs of all within her category; but transcending, and therefore lacking full adjustment to nature, he needs care and help beyond what she

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